German Lounge Hopper hit with 2000 euro bill from Lufthansa

The story is in German and the auto-translation sucks but the gist of this one is that a man in Germany bought a fully flexible business class ticket from Munich to Zurich for 745 euro but never actually intended to fly the ticket. Instead he just wanted to use Lufthansa’s Business Lounges in Munich. And so he did, 36 times over the course of a year. When the year came to a close he refunded the ticket and took his money back.

I’m not entirely clear on why one would go out of their way for these snacks but this guy did. And now he’s going to pay a pretty penny for the choice.

At that point of the story he might have actually been OK, but he chose to press his luck. He purchased a second ticket and aimed to repeat the year of “free” pretzels and gummy bears. Alas, Lufthansa had caught on to his act by this point and had other ideas. They canceled the new ticket (and refunded the money) but also invoiced the man for his 36 visits at a rate of 55 euro per visit. That’s a nearly 2000 euro bill.

Not surprisingly he fought the invoice claiming that the fully flexible ticket afforded him the option of changing his mind at any point. A Munich court sided with the airline, saying that he must pay. From the (admittedly bad) translation:

In the court’s opinion it was said that passengers would have a duty to cooperate in the performance of the services – the man would therefore have to fly. This is particularly true because the airline had incurred by hosting the accused before the flight costs (Ref.: Z 213 C 31293/13).

None of the stories mention his FlyerTalk or Milepoint username. πŸ˜‰

Just something to keep in mind next time you’re set to buy that refundable ticket to enter a lounge; it could cost you in the end.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. The judge decided that the man had violated the conditions of travel by visiting the lounge 36 times without flying and then trying the same Spiel(play) again the next year with the refunding of the previous ticket and purchase of a new ticket. The fee for each lounge visit was determined to be 55 Euros times 36 lounge visits, and it equals 1980 Euros. Wer bucht, muss auch fliegen( who books, must also fly).

    It would have been one thing for the customer to buy the ticket and change it throughout the year and finally take the flight, although I do not see this as appropriate. The fact that he refunded the ticket and then attempted to do the same thing again and continuously make use of the LH lounges is not acceptable. The 1980 Euros would have been better spent towards buying and actual Lufthansa flying on long haul international flights towards earning either LH Frequent Traveler or Senator status. In the end, he bought some very expensive airport buffet food.

  2. HA HA that’s what can happen when you cheat the system.

    One of my favorite quotes is from the movie Garden’s of Stone:
    “…some days the bear eats you.
    Others, you eat it. “

  3. Reminds me of the great SIN SilverKris lounge binges of the early 2000s. Back then SQ still sold fully flexible/refundable F tickets between SIN-KUL which were a quite reasonable S$300 or so. This, of course, gave entry to the ultra-luxe F section of the lounge where the Dom flowed freely and a full course dinner buffet loomed. Many an FTer learned this was one of the better ways to pass a hot/humid day or evening in Singapore, cancelling the ticket once settled into the first glass of Dom. No more F fares to KUL (or anywhere else in the region), so the purchase of a flex F ticket is considerably more these days, lounge attendants more alert of who’s hanging around for an extra-long visit, so the binges have pretty much come to an end.

  4. hmm, reminds me of someone else that supposedly got banned from a U.S. airline for doing the same thing, but instead of lounge access, it was bump vouchers.

  5. Makes me wonder…would the Judge’s decision that he must fly the sector (in these circumstances) make a stronger case for airlines who are fighting against passengers throwing away final sectors?

    Seems a different scenario at first, but the premise is that he is using the original ticket in an unintended manner

    1. I think that’s always been somewhat of a risk, PTBM. The airlines already come after passengers who make a habit of hidden-city ticketing or throw-away ticketing. No reason to believe that they wouldn’t get more aggressive in some scenarios if the passengers continue to cheat.

  6. Worst I’ve ever done is use a refundable ticket to get through security to access a lounge I was otherwise entitled to access (and, yes, that I technically had access to even without a corresponding flight segment) where trying to get a gate pass to get through security was more hassle than it was worth (also, a refundable ticket generally got me access to the PreCheck lane, where a gate pass wouldn’t).

    I view that as something that is a bypass of dumb TSA policies, not anything involving the airlines or their access rules at all. In the rare (4 or 5 in my lifetime that I can recall) times I did this, I always picked lightly-loaded flights and only held the ticket for as long as it took to get through security before canceling out the space for others to use.

    I agree that accessing a lounge on a premium-cabin ticket where you have a) no other legitimate means of access and also no intent to actually travel on the ticket is crossing the ethical/moral line.

  7. Yea, it was BA blogger. A famous one at that. Actual fraud was multiple re-use of the eCerts.

    1. There are others (at least one I know personally) who got banned for “bump running” where they’d book refundable tix with no intention of flying on flights which were likely oversold and then refund after collecting the voucher.

      Lots of people out there who don’t know where to draw the line.

      1. And those same people are the celebrated heroes of many in the “community.”

    2. Yeah and he was the same one who said he wanted to live in the FRA FCT. Surprised he didn’t do something like that. Then again maybe he did and didn’t get caught.

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